C r i p p l e
Author's note: This fic is dedicated to my good friend LadyRiona, who absolutely adores Ed/Winry. It's also dedicated to aka Arashi, who asked for an 'Ed and Winry friendship piece, sometime during the year that he's having automail surgeries and learning how to use his automail', but due to fanfiction being stupid (yes, it does that from time to time), I didn't get her request until after I posted the Friends in a Bucket one. So I guess you lucked out again, my dear Arashi, cause here's your drabble.
"Are you coming, Winry?" his voice could be heard from outside, in between laugher at Den's antics. "Come on, you said you'd play! We'll leave without you if you don't come soon!"
"Okay!" She grinned at him from the open window. Al didn't look anything like how he used to, but the way he looked up at her the girl could almost envision the fair-headed boy she was used to seeing, and the armor didn't seem anywhere that big from so far up.
"Winry! Hurry up!"
And for a little bit, Winry allowed herself to believe that everything was the way it used to be.
"Just a second, Al!" She ran, weaving her way in and out, from room to room, around furniture and over scattered dolls and wrenches before opening one door with a bang and gasping as she, her hair wild in a fuzzy halo that framed the round face, came to a sudden stop and said "Come on, Ed, let's go-"
There was very little light in that room. The curtains had been drawn, yet for some reason very little made it through the windows, and the few rays that did cast eerie, unfamiliar shadows on the walls.
But that wasn't why she'd quieted.
The bed was empty. The covers were rumpled, thrown off the mattress. Blood stained the sheets, droplets of red had splattered carelessly against wooden floorboards. The pillow was nowhere to be seen.
And Ed was on the ground.
Al's older brother was in the very back of the room, huddled against the wall, which was why she hadn't seen him at first, and he was curled up into a ball, with legs drawn together and his head tucked behind his knees so that only the golden shade of his hair was visible in the dim dark. His feet were bare, and the flesh one looked to be a frozen blue color, painted by cold lights and shadows.
He was shaking. She could make out the brittle and quivering shine of the automail.
Winry stepped closer timidly and bent down, trying to see his face.
She wavered for a bit, then touched him softly. "...Ed?"
She slowly, gently unfolded his automail arm to see what was wrong. She met no resistance as she did so, which frightened her more than anything else thus far.
…Except for when she noticed that his right arm was bleeding at the ports, that is.
"Ed!" she cried out in horror, and her hand instinctively reached behind her to grab at the white sheet and pull it up to Ed's shoulder, dabbing at it and smearing red on the metal in the process, not caring or noticing when her hands became sticky with the substance. There was a bruise on his shoulder, a bold dark purple mark on pale flesh.
Yet though she knew much more about automail than most adults, Winry still had no idea what could cause his shoulder to bleed like that.
But Pinako… Pinako would know.
"Granny!" she screamed shrilly. "Granny!!!"
Winry stared at him, tried to meet his eyes, but he was still turned away. His voice was a hoarse whisper that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand.
"…Wha-what?" she finally stammered.
"She's not here."
That made her frown. "Then I'll go get her."
She made to stand, but the bloody automail arm she had been holding gripped her weakly.
His voice was stronger, though.
"I said leave it."
"What do you mean, 'leave it'?! You're bleeding!"
She pulled her arm away. "Don't move, I'm gonna get help. I'll just tell Al to go look for her, okay? I'll come right back."
An expression of utmost fury and fear passed over his face. "Don't tell Al anything, Winry!" he bit out roughly. "I'm fine!"
"Fine?" her voice rose sharply and cracked as she gestured toward his arm. "You call that fine?"
Ed glanced at it, then looked away. "…It happens sometimes. It's not a big deal."
"Ed," she pointed out rather sensibly, "you're bleeding. All over the floor."
And indeed, there was a rather dark smear seeping through the floorboards, and the sheet wrapped around his arm looked as if it had always been red rather than the white it used to be.
But that didn't matter to Ed in the least.
"At least I can bleed!" he yelled harshly. He didn't look at her, but his left hand clenched into a fist, and his right twitched a little. "At least I can feel I'm alive!"
Winry didn't know what to say to that, except…
"Al's alive." It didn't sound like a declaration so much as a question.
He let out a slow breath. "...Yeah."
The word was brittle and weak, yes, but it didn't sound like a wish so much as truth, and Winry was relieved.
Sweat beaded on the boy's forehead, and he clenched his teeth as another spasm of pain ran through him. Ed shrunk into a ball again and shivered, pressed his white face into his knees again so it again disappeared from her view.
She'd never seen anything so sad.
Violent tremors ran through him, and she could do nothing but watch. They had installed his leg not too long ago – Ed had passed out during the first surgery after they finished with his arm, and as they needed him conscious for the insertion of the neural port connectors they had had to make do. As a result Edward's leg still wasn't attuned enough to his nerves, and any movement he could make was only done through painstaking care and caution. Bending his leg was for the most part out of the question – he had to use his arms to fold his leg and straighten it back again. Walking outright was, at least for now, impossible.
Walk. That was probably what he'd been trying to do, Winry realized. He'd tried to make himself walk, and must have not made it for more than a couple of steps before the pain and sheer awkwardness overcame him. The fall must have been the source of that bruise, jarring the automail and artificial nerves. That, in addition to likely initial attempts to bend his legs so he could get up, had most likely caused the tender tissue near his ports to break.
Another shudder ran through his body, and Edward tensed, suppressing it with an incredible show of willpower.
Her sight blurred as tears filled her vision. Ed couldn't walk. The boy she remembered running after her, running from her - always running instead of walking because it got him where he wanted to be so much quicker – he couldn't even stand.
She'd forgotten. Winry had wanted it to be like old times, and she'd forgotten that some things couldn't be just glanced over and ignored. Some things had changed too drastically to ever be the same again.
How stupid of her. She'd forgotten.
couldn't even walk.
She jolted at hearing the anger in his voice.
He met her eyes furiously, his damp face writhing into a livid scowl. "I said stop it! Don't look at me like that!" he shouted at her, uncurling from his ball and straightening his shoulders as much as he could. "Don't look at me!"
"Ed…" she hiccupped, reaching out to him, finally unable to stop herself. "I'm… I…"
Sorry! So sorry!
If anything, he only got more furious. "Don't you cry – don't you DARE cry!" he hissed harshly. "I don't want your pity! I don't need it, you hear me?!!"
A large round tear made its way down her face. "Ed..."
I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to forget! I'm sorry!
"Leave me alone! I don't need you, okay?!!"
"But I -"
"I don't need you, Winry! I'm not a cripple!"
Winry stared at him, hurt.
Why should anyone care? Why should anyone care about you?
Al… Ed…my friends…
Why should you care? You are not needed.
-Leave her alone!
-She already is…
Who are you? You are not needed.
I'm me! I'm not just an orphan! I'm somebody!
'I don't need you.'
Suddenly furious herself, the blond girl instinctively threw the closest thing she could find. It happened to be a wrench, and it clanged off his metal arm with a sweet loud chime that rang in her ears, and kept echoing in her mind long after it silenced, like a pulsing war chant.
'…You can be a great automail mechanic someday. You can help.'
"I never said you were, stupid! And you do too need me! Meanie! Jerk!"
His eyes widened, and he threw up his arms defensively. "Don't throw things at me, you maniac!"
'Come on, Winry, you said you'd play!'
"Yeah? Try and stop me, Ed!" she taunted him, not caring anymore. She wasn't losing him. "You need me! You do!"
The golden orbs flashed violently. "I don't! I can do it myself -"
Thump. Something soft hit her feet, and she looked down.
It was the missing pillow. He had tried to throw it at her, but even though she was right across from him, he couldn't manage the necessary power to do so. His hand was still trembling from the effort.
They both stared at it, silent.
…He couldn't even throw a proper tantrum anymore.
She felt like crying again, and it was testament to his strength that Edward didn't.
Ed's arm, still in mid throw, slowly dropped, and he leaned his head back, energy and anger both spent. He shook again, and she immediately came to his side and pressed the back of her hand against his forehead.
It was cold. And wet.
Suddenly remembering her training, Winry ran to the bathroom and came back with a towel and proper bandages. She winced as she saw the mess she'd made of the sheets - Granny will be angry, but she'd panicked and grabbed the closest thing she could find.
No matter. Pinako'll understand. She promptly cast the thought off her mind, instead beginning to unwind the sheet from her friend's arm in order to properly bandage it.
"I'll make it better," Ed finally whispered, as she wiped the sweat off his forehead. "I'll make everything right again. And then it won't matter anymore."
As if by magic, Winry came back to herself.
She scowled at him and lightly slapped his flesh leg. "I thought you lost your arm, not your brain, Ed," she snapped. "We'll help too – all of us."
"Don't like it?" she interrupted, gently positioning the pillow behind his head. "Too bad. I'm not going anywhere."
Edward closed his eyes, as if in exasperation.
But he nodded.
A/N: My first FMA all-angst drabble. I have to say that I do sorta like this one.
I just thought of how tempting it would be to try to forget everything that's happened, but it's not really an issue for Ed. And Winry is a flawed character, certainly. While she did get a jumpstart on maturity, it wasn't nearly the same jolt forward that Edward got - quite understandably, really, as she didn't quite have to take charge of her own life and reach an almost impossible goal. I find their interactions - well, their interactions when both of them are not being ridiculously short-tempered - fascinating. They have their similarities, stubbornness and single-mindedness being the most prominent of them.
Oh, and the beginning of the wrench-throwing era. I always wondered where Winry got it from, when it started. She seemed like such an innocent, nonviolent little girl before the accident... would only make sense that Ed would change that, too...
Aka Arashi, I don't know if this is quite what you wanted, but it's my own interpretation of it. So... well, yes. Hope everyone liked it.